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Climate and herbivore influence on Vaccinium myrtillus over the last 40 years in northwest Lapland, Finland

By Noemie Boulanger-Lapointe, Antero Järvinen, Rauni Partanen and Thora Martina Herrmann

Abstract

Annual fluctuations in the abundance of wild berries have repercussions on animals and humans who depend on this important resource. Although studies have tried to disentangle the effect of climate and herbivores on inter-annual berry yield, there are still many uncertainties as to which factors are driving productivity. In this research, we evaluated the effect of climate and predation by rodents and moths on the abundance of bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) flowers and berries at the Kilpisjarvi Biological Station in northwest Finnish Lapland. The data were collected from 1973 to 2014 in a forest and an alpine site, both undisturbed by human activities. This dataset is unique due to the length of the sampling period, the availability of flower, berry, and rodent abundance data as well as the undisturbed nature of the habitat. Previous summer temperatures, the abundance of rodents, and the presence of a moth outbreak were complementary factors explaining the abundance of flowers. Herbivores had a larger impact on flower production than climate, but both variables were important to understand reproductive effort. Contrary to results from experimental studies, warmer winters did not significantly influence reproductive success. The abundance of fruits was strongly correlated with pollinator activity; the forest site, with a larger pollinator network, had a higher reproductive success and spring conditions were linked to inter-annual variability in fruit production. Our results illustrate the importance of the location of the population within the species distribution range to understand plant sensitivity to climatic fluctuations with fruit production only influenced by current year summer temperatures at the alpine site. Finally, we observed a general increase in flower and fruit production at the alpine site, which was driven by large yields since the early 1990s. Fruit production at the forest site was comparatively stable throughout the study period

Topics: alpine, berry, climate, climate change, Finland, herbivore, Lapland, microtine, moth, pollination, shrub, WILD BERRY PICKING, MICROTINE CYCLES, VITIS-IDAEA, PLANT-PRODUCTION, FOOD RESOURCES, UPPER ARDENNES, DWARF SHRUB, WINTER, BILBERRY, ERICACEAE, 1172 Environmental sciences, 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology, alpine, berry, climate, climate change, Finland, herbivore, Lapland, microtine, moth, pollination, shrub, WILD BERRY PICKING, MICROTINE CYCLES, VITIS-IDAEA, PLANT-PRODUCTION, FOOD RESOURCES, UPPER ARDENNES, DWARF SHRUB, WINTER, BILBERRY, ERICACEAE, 1172 Environmental sciences, 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Publisher: Wiley
Year: 2017
OAI identifier: oai:helda.helsinki.fi:10138/178882
Journal:

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